Once again, it is time to step forward and take my own medicine. Steel Curtain Rising wrapped the news of Sean Mahan’s trade with speculation that the Steelers were moving Sean Mahan to create salary cap space to resign another lineman.
Such eleventh hour signings are certainly precedented. In 2006 and 2007 the Steelers made surprise signings of Ike Taylor and Kendall Simmons in the week preceding the season opener.
But both of those signings came early in the week, and with none announced thus far, it is highly unlikely that a deal will be made on Friday or Saturday. You can also look to the fact that in his weekly column “The Two Minute Drill” Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola declared the Steelers off season negotiations to be a success, and more or less intimated that the Steelers had tried and failed to resign players like Marvel Smith or Chris Kemoeatu.
While Labriola, who works out of the Steelers offices and gets his pay check from a publication that is part owned by the Steelers, is not the most objective writer, he has access to inside sources that no other reporter has. Labrolia’s column would have had to be written on Saturday or Sunday (or before) and it’s unlikely he’d have chosen that topic had a serious negotiation been afoot. (The article was published on Monday. I, however, did not read it until Wednesday.)
Barring an out of the blue announcement between now and kick off against Houston, the Steelers will begin their regular seaon contract negotiation blackout peroid, and enter free agency next winter with their top four tackles and starting guard all free agents, restricted or unrestricted.* That is not a pleasant situation, to say the least, but we will discuss that in the future.
*Willie Colon is the only restricted free agent, for those of you keeping score. Smith, Essex, Starks, and Kemoeatu will all be unrestricted free agents as of March 1, 2009.
P.S. Part of me keeps saying, “hold off on posting this…. Labriola stressed that the Steelers had to ‘scrounge’ to find the cap space to resign James Farrior. …of course, now the have cap space….” Suffice to say, if tomorrow I see “Steelers Resign So and So” in the Post-Gazette’s breaking news box, this writer will be one happy camper. (At the very least it will teach me not to make preemptive “mea culpas.”)